ATIKU’S NEXT BIG FIGHT AFTER LEAV­ING APC

No au­to­matic ticket for him – PDP

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Hamza Idris

Born on Novem­ber 25, 1946, Atiku Abubakar is ex­actly 71 years old to­day and yes­ter­day’s ‘de­fec­tion’ or res­ig­na­tion from the APC as he mildly put it might con­ve­niently be seen as a birth­day gift to his ad­mir­ers.

Unar­guably, Atiku would con­ve­niently sat­isfy the re­quire­ments of the Guineas Book of Records as the most mo­bile prom­i­nent politi­cian in Nigeria in re­cent times.

Atiku in the long state­ment he is­sued yes­ter­day al­luded that he had no rea­son to re­main in the APC be­cause the party had lost its bear­ing, there is im­punity and youths, the lead­ers of to­mor­row, had been side­lined by han­dlers of the party.

This was the ex­act ex­cuse he gave when he was about dump­ing the then rul­ing PDP ahead of the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions and joined five other gover­nors and PDP chief­tains who had ear­lier cleared the coarse.

But be­yond this, Atiku this time around did not boldly say he was heading back to the PDP or any of the mul­ti­tude of po­lit­i­cal par­ties avail­able, in­sist­ing that he was study­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

How­ever, those fol­low­ing po­lit­i­cal per­mu­ta­tions ahead of 2019 are fully aware that the Waziri Adamawa is def­i­nitely go­ing back to the PDP.

Many of his men are al­ready there in the PDP, and just the way he changed the shape of the APC fol­low­er­ship and nar­ra­tive in his home state of Adamawa and the neigh­bor­ing Taraba when he de­fected ahead of 2015 as well as how he sealed the re­la­tion­ship with APC mem­bers in other states in the North­east, North­cen­tral, North­west, South­east and South­west, Atiku has just done same dur­ing the lat­est PDP con­gresses.

It was re­li­ably gath­ered that Atiku will to­day (Satur­day) seal his “re­vi­tal­ized mar­riage” with the PDP at his Jada Ward 1 in Adamawa, where al­ready the ward chair­man, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment and state lead­er­ships are all his “boys,” whom he fa­cil­i­tated their as­cen­sion to power after many of them dumped the APC in the last cou­ple of months.

Cun­ningly, Atiku did not aban­don his al­lies es­pe­cially in the South­east who re­fused to dump the PDP for the APC. Those close to Atiku said his biggest am­bi­tion in life is to be­come the pres­i­dent.

But clearly, ac­tu­al­iz­ing this tall dream by Atiku will be very dif­fi­cult in the APC, go­ing by re­cent de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing Buhari’s re­cent vigour and the body lan­guage of those around him.

Un­less he re­fuses the Right of First Re­fusal that the APC would give him, Buhari’s sec­ond term is like a sealed deal for now.

Sources said that was why Atiku, who came third be­hind ex-gov­er­nor Rabiu Kwankwaso dur­ing the party’s pres­i­den­tial pri­maries ahead of 2015, de­cided to move out of the APC at this crit­i­cal mo­ment.

The ar­gu­ment is that he would be 73 by 2019 and by 2023, he would be around 77, mean­ing his strug­gle of ever be­com­ing a pres­i­dent would drain as a dream.

This is more ev­i­dent be­cause by 2023, it would no longer be pos­si­ble for the North to pro­duce the pres­i­dent, con­sid­er­ing the zon­ing ar­range­ment that is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing pop­u­lar.

But clearly, it will not be an easy ride for Atiku in the PDP ei­ther, as there are many preda­tors al­ready fight­ing to get the pres­i­den­tial ticket.

The likes of ex-gov­er­nor Sule Lamido, ex- gov­er­nor Ibrahim Shekarau and even the Chair­man of the Na­tional Care­taker Com­mit­tee of the PDP, Se­na­tor Ahmed Makarfi among oth­ers are all in­ter­ested in the plump job.

But sources close to Atiku said he re­mains a for­mi­da­ble force, in­sist­ing that he had sealed a deal with the South­east, es­pe­cially be­cause of his sup­port for re­struc­tur­ing.

“And for the South­west, the lead­ers there are bit­terly ag­grieved be­cause of the way they are be­ing treated and Atiku has reached out to them, they are ne­go­ti­at­ing,” a source said.

He said there is the like­li­hood that the South­west would throw their weight be­hind Atiku and he would re­cip­ro­cate in sim­i­lar man­ner after he served out his ten­ure in the event he wins the pres­i­dency.

An­other source said Atiku is also plan­ning to fully in­volve the South­south and South­east in the pro­ject.

Speak­ing on what many see as Atiku’s des­per­a­tion, Mr A.A Lawan, the Director of Atiku Sup­port Group, said the for­mer vice pres­i­dent is not des­per­ate.

“He only wants to lib­er­ate Nige­ri­ans from the shack­les of un­der­de­vel­op­ment. We all know that he is rich and has ex­celled in many busi­nesses. His prob­lem is not money, he wants to serve the peo­ple,” he said.

Atiku had vied for the pres­i­dency in 1993, plac­ing third after MKO Abi­ola and Baba­gana Kin­gibe in the So­cial Demo­cratic Party (SDP) pri­maries.

In 1998, he was elected Gov­er­nor of Adamawa State. While still gov­er­nor-elect, he was se­lected by the PDP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Oluse­gun Obasanjo, as his run­ning mate. The duo went on to win the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Fe­bru­ary 1999, and Abubakar was sworn-in as Nigeria’s sec­ond demo­crat­i­cally elected vice pres­i­dent on May 29, 1999.

Over the years, Atiku had had a stint in many po­lit­i­cal par­ties, in­clud­ing the PDP, ACN, back to PDP, PDM, APC and now go­ing back to PDP, all for the sin­gle dream of be­com­ing the pres­i­dent.

Pun­dits be­lieve that he would in­deed have to fight a big bat­tle this time around be­cause it might likely be his last stint.

Atiku Abubakar

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